The e-mail that inspired this week's column

From my brother Dan. Not funny, but pretty deep.

Things I ruminated upon whilst reading:

1. Note how it’s not by virtue of federal redistribution, but rather by the individual him/herself. A person might come away from this article thinking that socialization is inherently a virtue when if you really look at it, it’s like I said: the benefit and good feeling falls upon the giver, not the person from whom it was taken. I don’t need to tell you there is a big difference.

2. This is further proof of my theory that being selfish is almost impossible to escape: these people feel better THEMSELVES when they “help” other people. Even though it is based on the supposed virtue of altruism, it’s still rooted in selfishness, and it’s not true altruism because they’re giving money from the black, not the red.

3. Also, don’t people lie? How do we know that these people actually felt happier? Couldn’t it be the case that they told the researchers giving to others made them feel better because the generally accepted wisdom states that you’re SUPPOSED to feel better when you give to others? Kind of like those people who say to pollsters they have no problem voting for a black man, and then vote the other way when they actually get in the booth?

4. I think it also largely depends on whom you spend the money. Giving a dollar to a homeless person doesn’t make me feel good at all, but donating fifty bucks to the CF Foundation makes me feel great. It’s not self-sacrifice if I feel like I’m helping a worthy cause. So if you’re spending money on something you highly value, in a way it’s like spending it on yourself, because man is the only animal capable of having values; thus, a person’s values are an extension of himself.

Joe Donatelli
Joe Donatelli is a writer in Los Angeles

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